A leading official in Russia’s parliament warns of a “global tragedy” if Ukraine gains new weapons from allies as the bitter battle between the two nations approaches its 11-month mark.
Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the State Duma – Russia’s lower house of the country’s parliament – delivered the ominous message on Sunday after Kiev’s allies pledged to provide more armored vehicles, air defense systems and other equipment to attack Russian forces.
He said countries sending more powerful weapons could lead to “global tragedy that would destroy their country”.
“Supplying offensive weapons to the Kiev regime would lead to a global catastrophe,” said Volodin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If Washington and NATO provide weapons that could be used to capture peaceful cities and attempt to seize our territory, as they threaten to do, it would lead to retaliation with more powerful weapons.”
He claimed that United States and NATO aid to Ukraine has led to a “terrible war”.
Volodin has held his current position since 2016; before that, he had a senior role in the presidential administration. He is also a member of Putin’s Security Council, which gives him regular access to the president.
While supporters pledged to send billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine at a rally at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base on Friday, no agreement was reached on Ukraine’s urgent request for German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks.
The transfer of those tanks must be approved by Berlin, even if they are owned by other NATO countries.
When German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was asked about the tanks during a joint press conference with France in Paris on Sunday, he turned away and instead emphasized the great contributions Germany has already made to Ukraine.
“The US is doing a lot, Germany is also doing a lot,” he said as Germany drew criticism for its caution, particularly from Poland and other Baltic states.
Germany’s top diplomat said on Sunday that German officials would not object to Poland sending tanks to Ukraine.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told French TV channel LCI that while Poland has not sought formal approval, “if asked, we will not stand in the way.”
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki promised to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine with a “smaller coalition” of countries even if Germany did not give his country the green light.
French President Emmanuel Macron said at the same press conference in Paris that he has not ruled out sending Leclerc main battle tanks to Ukraine. One of the factors that would drive France’s decision would be whether the transfer of tanks would lead to an escalation of the conflict, he said.
France and Germany celebrated 60 years of friendship after World War II during the remarks of the two world leaders.
Meanwhile, Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) on Sunday urged the US to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine to counter Germany’s hesitation.
“If it required us to send some Abrams tanks to get the Leopard tanks out of Germany, Poland or other allies, I would support that,” Coons said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Ukraine has been asking for more weapons in recent weeks to prepare for a possible new offensive from Russia in the spring.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said the meeting at the German air base “left no doubt that our enemies will try to wear us down or rather destroy us”, while also admitting that “they have enough guns” to do that.
He said if the war, which began on February 24, 2022, continues, it could lead to Russia forming a military alliance with “the nations fed up with the Americans and a pack of their neutered dogs”.
Medvedev, a former Russian president, warned last week that nuclear war could ensue if Russia loses the war to Ukraine.
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